I've gotten very bad about posting my reading lists here, partly because I'm having a terrible time keeping track of what I'm allowed to admit I've read. I get very early copies of books, read books in manuscript, read for clients under confidentiality agreements, read candidates for awards nominations that are obviously confidential, and — well, you get the idea.
But one of my happiest reading adventures this winter was an early copy of HEADS YOU LOSE, a collaborative mystery that becomes a piece of performance art with the addition of emails exchanged between the authors as they wrote the book. This kind of meta-fiction is hard to pull off without becoming annoying, but HEADS YOU LOSE walks that line beautifully. The underlying mystery works — a brother and sister who grow pot in Northern California find a headless body on their land, and decide to hide it rather than call the police — but the emails between chapters are both hilarious and educational, almost a tutorial in novel-writing.
Lisa is the award-winning author of the marvelous Spellman detective novels. David is a recovering poet. They used to date. I am delighted that they agreed to answer Five Random Questions for the blog.
1. What can you cook without a recipe?
2. Please describe the circumstances of your worst-ever haircut.
Lisa: Thanks for asking. It was 1997, I think. I asked Dave to take a little off the bottom and he just hacked off several chunks of hair without any clear aesthetic point of view. I should note he was rather drunk at the time. But still, it seemed deliberate to me.
Dave: I tend to steer clear of drunk barbers, so I can’t recall a particularly terrible haircut. But my worst phase was probably a modern rock look in the early ’90s.
3. What's your favorite season, and why?
Lisa: Winter. I’ll take precipitation in any form I can get it and as often as possible.
Dave: Spring and fall (tie) because I’m noncommittal.
4. What's the last nonfiction book you read?
Lisa: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. Educational and hilarious. If she wrote my science textbooks in high school, I might actually remember something.
Dave: Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky. Sad and irresistible.
5. Which house would you belong to at Hogwarts?
Lisa: I think I’m a mix of Gryffindor and Slytherin. I’ve got the loyalty part of Gryffindor, and I think I have a bit of the cunning and resourcefulness of a Slytherin. But my blood is not pure. Dave hasn’t read the books, so I’ll answer for him. He’s 100 percent Ravenclaw — intelligence, creativity, learning, and wit. Although, I’m not saying he has all of those qualities, but at least 25%.
Dave: This has to be a trap. I’m keeping my mouth shut.